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Truth about computer security hysteria
Truth About Computer Security Hysteria

Sophos now urges 8,760 antivirus updates per year, per computer!

Rob Rosenberger, Vmyths co-founder
Sunday, 2 May 2004 As read by the author (MP3) IN 1991, THE experts told you to update your antivirus software on a quarterly basis. In other words, you'd inject a security patch into your PC on an average of four times per year.
Quar­terly anti­virus up­dates weren't enough. Then monthly up­dates weren't enough. Then weekly up­dates weren't enough. Now daily up­dates aren't enough.
If you failed to do this, your antivirus software might fail to work. By 1996, the experts urged you to update your antivirus software on a monthly basis. In other words, you'd inject a security patch into your PC on an average of twelve times per year. If you failed to do this, your antivirus software might fail to work. You went to a three-fold increase in updates over a five-year period. By 1998, the experts pleaded with you to update your antivirus software on a weekly basis. In other words, you'd inject a security patch into your PC on an average of 52 times per year. If you failed to do this, your antivirus software might fail to work. You went from a three-fold increase over five years to a four-fold increase over two years. In 1999, the experts screamed at you to update your antivirus software every single day. In other words, you'd inject a security patch into your PC on an average of 365 times per year. The experts feared 200,000 "Y2K" viruses would destroy Earth. You went from a three-fold increase over five years to a four-fold increase over two years to a seven-fold increase over one year. In mid-2000, the experts ordered you to update your antivirus software multiple times per day. In other words, you'd inject a security patch into your PC on an average of 700-1000 times per year. You needed to do this just to keep up with all of the variants of the horrifying ILoveYou virus. You went from a three-fold increase over five years to a four-fold increase over two years to a seven-fold increase over one year to a 2-3 fold increase over six months. The experts eventually backed down a bit. They grudgingly admitted you could get away with updating your antivirus software multiple times per week. In other words, you could inject a security patch into your PC on an average of 100-200 times per year — except on those occasions when a virus would strike. When a CNN anchor told you about a terrifying new virus, the experts implored you to temporarily increase your updating schedule. Aha! But you'll notice I said "up to now." Let me quote the key portion in a new press release from Sophos:
"It is no longer effective to only apply anti-virus updates on a daily or less frequent basis," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "It's obviously good that companies are deploying anti-virus protection, but they are pouring their money down the drain if the protection is not frequently updated. Effective anti-virus protection includes the ability to poll automatically for security updates on an hourly basis."
The experts now chide you to update your antivirus software once an hour. In other words, you'd inject a security patch into your PC on an average of 8,760 times per year. You need to do this just to keep up with hordes of devastating new viruses. You'll go from a three-fold increase over five years to a four-fold increase over two years to a seven-fold increase over one year to a 2-3 fold increase over six months ... to an 8-12 fold increase now.
Sophos now in­sists com­panies "are pouring their money down the drain" if they don't inject every PC every hour — in other words, 8,760 anti­virus up­dates per year. Per computer.
8,760 antivirus updates per year. Per computer. "Wow." If you fail to update every hour, your antivirus software might fail to work. And you pay for this privilege!
QUARTERLY ANTIVIRUS INJECTIONS weren't enough. Monthly antivirus injections weren't enough. Weekly antivirus injections weren't enough. Now daily antivirus injections aren't enough. Companies "are pouring their money down the drain" if they don't inject every PC every hour, Sophos insisted in their latest press release. Someday, the experts will compel you to update your antivirus software once a minute. In other words, you'll inject a security patch into your PC on an average of 525,600 times per year. You'll someday need to do this just to keep up with an invasion of horrifying new viruses. 525,600 antivirus updates per year, someday. Per computer. "Wow." If you someday fail to update every minute, your antivirus software might fail to work. You'll go from a three-fold increase over five years to a four-fold increase over two years to a seven-fold increase over one year to a 2-3 fold increase over six months to an 8-12 fold increase over four years ... to an eventual 60-fold increase. But even "minute-ly updates" won't stem the tide forever. Someday, you'll need a persistent antivirus update. In other words, your PC's network cable will serve as an intravenous tube for a constant stream of injections. Sounds like an addiction, doesn't it? It's called an "Addictive Update Model" for a reason, you know. Oh, sure, the experts label it as a "subscription" — but it's the same as an addiction to painkillers. Painkiller addicts get a subscription from their doctor; antivirus addicts get a subscription from their vendor. No doubt the experts will debate this column by saying (in the words of Sophos) "effective anti-virus protection includes the ability to poll automatically for security updates." But this counterpoint will sidestep the ultimate issue:
An addiction, no matter how
automated, is still an addiction.
Antivirus updates are so addictive that it has even intrigued the tobacco industry. Even persistent updating won't be enough, you know. Why? Because antivirus firms spend hours preparing each injection before you can download it. If/when you finally go to an intravenous update, you'll still be lagging behind the latest virus threats. Ask yourself a simple question, folks. "Why don't antivirus firms get infected?" You'll find the answer here. Enjoy your addiction.